Climate-change campaigners will gather near Gore this
month to support Southlanders concerned about the potential
impacts of lignite mining on their communities.
The ''Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival'' will run
from January 18 to 21 at Dolamore Park near Gore.
The festival's theme is ''Shaping Our Future - We Have
Options'' and is being hosted by Coal Action Murihiku (Cam).
The festival builds on the success of last year's inaugural
Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival held on Mike
Dumbar's farm south of Mataura.
Cam co-convener Jenny Campbell said the group was formed
after last year's festival and was designed to provide a
forum for those who had concerns about proposed lignite
developments in Eastern Southland.
Cam is connected with the national group Coal Action Network
Aotearoa (Cana) which ran the summer festival.
It became clear at the festival, when a wide variety of
concerns relating to areas such as health, climate, water and
social effects were discussed, that there were a lot of
questions but few answers available for residents, Mrs
Australian anti-mining campaigner and farmer Rob McCreath, of
Queensland, will be the keynote speaker at this year's
Mrs Campbell said the festival would have a ''more positive
focus'' and would explore options.
''We do have options - it's not all doom and gloom.''
Participants will explore problems and challenges, share
ideas, skills, education, enthusiasm and how to act now
around the issues of coal mining.
The festival will include an update on lignite projects, and
a series of workshops.
Several speakers will give addresses at a public open day at
the James Cumming Wing on Ardwick St, Gore, on Sunday,
January 20. Speakers include Mr McCreath, who was the Friends
of Felton founding president.
The Friends of Felton was a community group that won a
four-and-a-half-year battle against a proposed open-cut coal
mine and a petrochemical plant on the Darling Downs, in
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) climate change programme manager
Peter Hardstaff will also speak at the festival. Mr Hardstaff
will talk about the WWF commissioned report ''Low Carbon
Options for Southland'', which was released last year. The
topic for his talk will be ''There is an Alternative: A Lower
Carbon Future for the Southern Region''.
Other speakers, apart from Cana members Jeanette Fitzsimmons
and Kristin Gillies, are new to the festival, .
Mrs Campbell said more than 300 people attended the
festival's open education day last year, and about 120 came
from throughout New Zealand and from overseas for the event.
Registrations for the festival are open at www.nocoalsummerfest.org.nz,
and close next Friday, although some late registrations will